Salad month brings up questions not only about what to put in your salad, but also what to put ON your salad.
If you, like many, prefer to use a pre-made salad dressing, no judgment from us. Enjoy your salad, girlfriend! But if you are ready to try something a little different, read on for 4 delicious oils you can add to your next salad, either on its own or in a home-made vinaigrette.
Benefits of Oils
Oils are full of healthy fats, which help you better absorb the nutrition of your salad greens. Plus oils can be beneficial to your skin and hair, they can increase your energy levels, and reduce inflammation.
A note of caution about using oil on your salad. A little oil goes a long way. Drizzle your chosen oil on a little at a time to prevent your greens from becoming saturated. You want a beautiful light shine, nothing more.
1. Finish off Your Salad with Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Let’s start with the most basic oil that everyone always talks about. This oil is delicious, good for you, versatile, available in every grocery store, and probably already in your kitchen. What is it? Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO).
Try this fail-proof, tasty technique. Toss fresh organic spring mix with a drizzle of heart-healthy EVOO, a little salt and pepper, a squeeze of lemon, a handful of dried cranberries and croutons, and you’ve got yourself a lunch you can be proud of.
2. Sunflower Oil to Delight Your Taste Buds
To expand your repertoire, try sunflower oil as the base for your next dressing. Sunflower oil is a fantastic source of Vitamin E which helps boost your immune system. Sunflower oil works especially well if used on a salad that includes…wait for it…sunflower seeds! The message here is, try to pair your oil flavor with your salad ingredients. With the wrong combination, the salad might seem bitter. Pairing sunflower oil with sunflower seeds is an easy place to start. See how simple this is?
3. Rich and Nutty Walnut Oil
Next, try a rich, nutty walnut oil. Roasted walnut oil is simply sumptuous and we love it in vinaigrettes, where its rich, nutty flavor really sings.
Walnut oil is great when you’re complementing a heartier salad, such as one with walnuts, apples, bleu cheese, and kale. We recommend a quality oil like La Tourangelle Roasted Walnut Oil. High quality oils come at a higher price point than your average oil, but the flavor is divine and since one bottle will go a long way, it’s totally worth it. Nut oils are light and refreshing on a simple salad of mixed baby greens. Remember, you can substitute any flavorful nut oil to match the nuts you’ve used in your salad.
If you love La Tourangelle’s walnut oil, branch out and try any of their other oils such as Grapeseed, Avocado, or Hazelnut Oil (Here’s a delicious Hazelnut, Persimmon and Mozzarella Salad with Earthbound Farm Rosé Blend recipe to try that uses La Tourangelle’s Hazelnut Oil!)
Our Organic Arugula and Roasted Beet Salad with Walnuts and Feta Cheese uses a simple walnut balsamic vinaigrette. (Recipe for vinaigrette below.)
Simple Walnut Balsamic Vinaigrette
Here is a simple recipe for Walnut Balsamic Vinaigrette. (The quality of the oil and vinegar makes all the difference in this dressing.) This is an intensely flavored dressing that also makes a nice basting sauce for grilled figs.
¾ cup roasted walnut oil
¼ cup good-quality balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Directions: Place the walnut oil, vinegar, and mustard in a glass jar and seal the lid tightly. Shake the jar vigorously to combine. Season the vinaigrette with salt and pepper to taste. The vinaigrette can be refrigerated, covered, for up to 1 month. Let it return to room temperature before using.
4. Coconut Oil on Your Salad for Something Totally New
Are you ready to experiment a little bit? Try coconut oil. You’re probably envisioning a jar of solid white—pop a little in the microwave for a few seconds and it will quickly melt. The effort is totally worth it, because the flavor of coconut oil on a salad is to die for. And guess what you can add as one of your toppings? Shredded coconut. Pair with slices of a tropical fruit and maybe a light seafood such as shrimp or grilled tilapia.
5. Bonus—Sesame Oil!
Sesame oil is available in two forms: plain and toasted. Plain (or cold-pressed) oil is made from raw sesame seeds and has very little color, aroma, or flavor. Its neutral taste and high smoke point make it a good choice for sautéing. It will keep for up to 6 months at room temperature. Toasted (or roasted) sesame oil, on the other hand, is made from toasted seeds, a technique that draws out a rich fragrance and flavor. It is a deep brown color and should be stored in the refrigerator to avoid spoilage. Unlike plain sesame oil, it should not be used as a cooking oil, although a few teaspoons are often added to a dish at the very end of stir-frying once the pan is off the heat. Use toasted sesame oil for vinaigrettes and cold sauces, too.
Our Asian Greens Japanese Power Bowl with Quick Miso Vinaigrette is a great one to try with sesame oil.
Oil Storage and Use
Now that you’re armed with an arsenal of new oils, make sure to store them out of the sun and in a cool place. Oils can easily go rancid, and for that reason you should only buy oils that come in dark bottles or tin cans. If you’ve had an opened oil for more than 2-3 months give it a smell or taste test before using. If it seems at all rancid, toss it out. You don’t want to get sick or ruin an entire meal with spoiled oil.
These oils are only a few of the many that you can try on your next salads. Let us know what you think, or if you have other favorite oils or vinaigrette recipes that you enjoy.